MAKING A KILLING: The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Murder on the Orient Express


First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new consultation service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  FosCheck out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013.  Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
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Warning: SPOILERS
When I saw writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos and writer Efthymis Filippou’s earlier film Dogtooth, I must be honest and say I didn’t have the most favorable reaction and many might consider that odd.
I felt it a rather dated attack on middle class mores that had already been done to death in the 1950’s and 60’s, especially in the off-Broadway theater.
But then I saw The Lobster, their last film, an hysterical satire and social commentary on love and relationships and the society that promotes them.
And now I’ve seen their latest, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and I realized I was partially right about my earlier analysis because the more I see of their work, the more I realize the turgid social commentary of those decades are not their main influences. Rather, these two artists are the 21st Century embodiment of the existentialist/theater of the absurd practitioners like Beckett, Ionesco, Sartre, Albee and others of that ilk. Continue reading
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FUHGEDDABOUDIT: Coming Home and Black Mass


First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Warning: SPOILERS
In 1942, Ronald Colman played a character so shell shocked by the trenches of World War I that he walked out of the hospital where he was recovering, having no idea who he was.
He was taken in by a singer in a vaudeville house (Greer Garson), fell in love and the two married. Then years later, he suddenly, out of nowhere, remembered who he really was, but totally forget that his wife existed. He discovers he’s the scion of a wealthy family and eventually runs for political office, not knowing that his secretary is actually his wife.
This movie is Random Harvest and is perhaps the most romantic and delirious use of amnesia in film. But amnesia has always been a useful tool of storytelling, whether romantic (here and in Law of Desire) or in thrillers (Mr. Budwing and Mirage) or comedy (The Hangover and 50 First Dates).
coming homeComing Home, written by Jingzhi Zou and directed by Yimou Zhang, falls into the more melodramatic end of the spectrum like Random Harvest. It’s unabashedly sentimental and relishes in a sort of 1930’s studio romanticism tone and style, though the grittiness makes it more Warner Brothers than MGM. Continue reading

FANTASY ISLANDS: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and Into the Woods


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
hobbit battleThe latest entry of The Hobbit franchise is called The Battle of the Five Armies, and I guess I have to first say that I found the title a tad puzzling because I only counted four…armies, that is. There were elves, dwarves, man and orcs.
I guess the fifth comes about if you divide those orcky things into two different factions, but, I don’t know, that sorta felt like cheating to me.
At any rate, I think the story of J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings could be used as a metaphor for filmmaker Peter Jackson and his production of this final installment of the adventures of a little person called Bilbo Baggins. Continue reading

ANIMAL CRACKERS: Tusk and Bird People


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

Warning: SPOILERS
tusk-movie-wallpaper-20Okay, I’m just going to say it and get it out of the way because if I don’t, I won’t be able to concentrate and write the rest of the review.
Tusk, writer/director Kevin Smith’s new horror film, is a…wait for it…are you sitting down…you really should be sitting down for this…Tusk is a…little long in the tooth.
There, I said it.
Whew. I’m glad that’s over and done with. Now to the gist of the matter. Continue reading

BRAIN DEAD: Transcendence


Transcendence5-600x338Transcendence (or perhaps more aptly titled Trance-enduscence), the new sci-fi thriller written by Jack Paglen and directed by Wally Pfister (a first feature for both, though Pfister was the cinematographer on many Christopher Nolan films), is about a scientist, Will Caster, who tries to turn the world into a dystopian Eden when his brain is uploaded into a computer.
The basic structure is as familiar as any standard piece of Victorian literature, the period when Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein, a horror story about an egotistical scientist who tries to play God by creating a man out of a bunch of miscellaneous parts from dead bodies. Continue reading